Outdoor Notes: Visit Indian Cave State Park for Outdoor Adventure on April 27

LINCOLN, Neb. – Enjoy a day of fun, food and fungi April 27 at the 8th Annual Outdoor Adventure at Indian Cave State Park.

The day’s activities include a mushroom hunting contest, Morel Mile run and 5k race, biscuits and gravy breakfast, hayrack rides, archery, horseback rides, Dutch Oven cooking and kayaking. Biscuits and gravy will be served for breakfast, and a fish fry will be served for lunch. Visit OutdoorNebraska.org/calendar for more information.

A park entry permit is required of each vehicle. Fees will be charged for meals.

50th Annual Cornhusker Trapshoot Set for May 2-4

LINCOLN, Neb. – More than 2,000 students are expected to compete in the 50th Annual Cornhusker Trapshoot May 2-4 on the home grounds of the Nebraska Trapshooting Association (NTA) in Doniphan, Nebraska.

Competition will take place in individual and team divisions. Junior high students (grades 6-8) will shoot 100 16-yard targets on May 2. High school competitors (grades 9-12) will shoot 75 16-yard targets on May 3, then 75 handicap targets on May 4. The high school shooter with the highest combined score will earn the Cornhusker Cup. Competition begins at 8 a.m. each day.

The Cornhusker Trapshoot is open nationwide to all shooters in grades 6-12 who have completed a hunter education course.

The NTA home grounds are located 3 miles south of Interstate 80 exit 312 on U.S. 281. The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission and the NTA are hosts.

Visit Cornhusker-trap.com for more information.

Enjoy history reenactment May 4-5 at Fort Hartsuff SHP

LINCOLN, Neb. – The world of a Plains soldier will come to life May 4-5 at Fort Hartsuff State Historical Park during the annual spring muster.

At this event, themed Garrisons of the Frontier: Soldiering on the Northern Plains 1865-1870, reenactors will portray a soldier’s daily activities, including marching and standing guard, parade and inspection, cannon firings, barracks life and soldier antics. Daily civilian life will be portrayed as well, with laundresses, cooks and seamstresses hard at work around the fort. A shootout will take place on Sunday afternoon.

The weekend will be filled with activities for the whole family to enjoy. Candle-making, peanuts and drinks will be available for free while supplies last. Admission is $2 for adults and $1 for children ages 3 to 12.

The park is located 6 miles southeast of Burwell in Valley County. A vehicle park entry permit is required. Contact the park for more information at 308-346-4715.

Private landowners may enroll in Open Fields and Waters

LINCOLN, Neb. – Nebraska Game and Parks Commission biologists are seeking private landowners interested in enrolling in the Open Fields and Waters (OFW) Program this spring.

Through the program, landowners can earn additional income for allowing walk-in hunting, trapping and/or fishing access on their properties. With over 97 percent of Nebraska’s land-base in private ownership, obtaining access to private lands continues to be one of the biggest challenges facing hunters and anglers. In 2018, over 700 private landowners participated in OFW, opening 317,000 land acres, 600 acres of ponds/lakes, and 42 miles of streams to public access across the state.

Landowners who participate in OFW receive annual, per-acre payments and are afforded protection from liability under the Nebraska Recreation Liability Act. Payment rates vary from 50 cents to $15 per acre, depending on habitat type and property location. Additional incentives are available to help create and improve wildlife habitat on enrolled lands. Game and Parks biologists post boundary signs and enrolled properties are published annually in the Nebraska Public Access Atlas, which is available at OutdoorNebraska.org/PublicAccessAtlas/.

Increasing public hunting opportunities is a primary objective outlined in the Berggren Plan, Game and Parks’ five-year initiative aimed at improving the pheasant hunting experience in Nebraska. New OFW enrollments will be targeted within the eight priority areas identified in the plan but other properties offering high-quality habitat will also be considered. The plan may be viewed at OutdoorNebraska.org/PheasantPlan/. In 2018, Game and Parks biologists added over 56,000 acres of OFW lands within the aforementioned priority areas and hope to expand the program once again in 2019.

Private landowners interested in enrolling in OFW should contact their nearest Game and Parks district office: Lincoln (402-471-5561), Norfolk (402-370-3374), Alliance (308-763-2940), or North Platte (308-535-8025).

Turkey hunting conditions improve; volunteers aid parks’ cleanup effort

LINCOLN, Neb. – Nebraska’s shotgun turkey season appears to be off to a good start one month after a catastrophic flood and severe winter storm hit the state.

The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission continues to assess damage on its properties as cleanup and repairs have begun.

For hunters, turkeys that likely had been displaced from traditional spring habitats, such as riparian areas, likely will begin returning to those areas soon. Hunters should find turkeys breaking up and spreading out.

Reports in northwestern Nebraska include many hunters in the field seeing numerous turkeys. Roads closed in that part of the state by the winter storm are gradually opening, improving access to hunting areas. There also are reports of excellent hunting success in southeastern Nebraska.

Several wildlife management areas (WMA) remain closed to the public because of impassable roads. Those who hunt WMAs along major river corridors are encouraged to call their local Game and Parks district office for status updates before venturing out. Some county roads to areas that were closed by flooding or snow gradually are reopening.

Visit OutdoorNebraska.org to purchase a turkey permit. The season runs through May 31.

Volunteers are a big part of the effort to clean up state park areas that flooded. Parks first began getting offers for help from volunteers shortly after the flood. Game and Parks then set up a webpage for volunteer sign-up.

Game and Parks organized the first volunteer effort April 13 at Louisville State Recreation Area (SRA). Seventh-five volunteers painted 350 picnic tables, replaced boards on 220 picnic tables, picked up 15 bags of trash, and prepared the main office for new interior walls and counters.

A second volunteer event is scheduled for April 27 at Fremont Lakes SRA. It will include 300-400 Boy Scouts raking trash and debris on the beaches. Another 100 volunteers will remove trash and debris, move picnic tables and replant planters.

To see a list of WMA and park closures, visit outdoornebraska.gov/weatherclosures.

Bacon and Beer Feed April 28 at Fort Atkinson SHP

LINCOLN, Neb. – Enjoy a meal of local bacon and beer at Fort Atkinson State Historical Park on April 28.

The Bacon and Beer Feed will take place fireside in the Council House from noon to 2 p.m. The four-course menu includes five varieties of bacon from local pork and beef. Cure Cooking and Too Far North, both located in Fort Calhoun, will provide the meal and brews.

Visit curecooking.com/baconbeerfeed for the full menu and to register. The cost is $35 for adults and $20 for ages 12 and under.

Fort Atkinson is located at 201 S. 7th St. in Fort Calhoun, Nebraska. A park entry permit is required.

Commission to consider deer, antelope and elk hunting recommendations

LINCOLN, Neb. – The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission will consider recommendations for 2019 deer, antelope and elk hunting seasons when it meets April 24 at Ponca State Park.

The meeting will begin at 8 a.m. at the park’s Missouri National Recreational River Resource and Education Center. The park is located at 88090 Spur 26E in Dixon County.

A public hearing is scheduled for proposed amendments to Commission orders pertaining to season dates, bag limits, permit quantities and areas open for deer, antelope and elk hunting.

Hunters should be aware that staff will be presenting additional changes at the meeting to the big game orders posted for review. Those additional changes are in response to severe March weather in northwest Nebraska and deer depredation issues in southwest and central parts of the state, and would affect the following three deer management units as follows:

Pine Ridge – Decrease Any Deer (but no antlerless mule deer) permits to 1,200 and increase Any Whitetail permits to 1,000.

Loup West Season Choice Area – Decrease permits to 300 and change bag limit to two Antlerless Only deer.

Frenchman West Season Choice Area – Expand unit boundary eastward.

Also on the agenda is a public hearing for input regarding the listing and delisting of state threatened and endangered species in the Commission’s District 3, which is northeast Nebraska.

In addition, the Commission will consider at staff recommendation to approve the acquisition of 74.97 acres in Banner County adjacent to Williams Gap Wildlife Management Area and designation of it as an addition to the area.

The Commission also will hear several staff updates, including the new Take ’em Fishing promotion, which challenges anglers to pledge to take a new or lapsed angler fishing for a chance to win prizes.

There also will be a report on big game research, a presentation on the fish, wildlife and park resources in northeast Nebraska, and an environmental report.

A complete meeting agenda can be found at outdoornebraska.gov/commissioners.